Here’s What Happened to My Face When I Committed to an at-Home Microcurrent Routine for 4 Weeks

Photo: Getty Images/Knape
Microcurrent facials: We’ve likely heard the term (or seen them on the 'gram), but how many of us actually know what they are or how they really work? Exactly. That’s precisely why, as a self-proclaimed beauty lover, I wanted to learn more. In the interest of ~knowledge~, for four weeks straight, I committed to five minutes of microcurrent therapy each morning and night.

Before we get into my experience and results, I'll let the pros explain what I'd be doing to my face. “Microcurrent sends soft, gentle waves [of electricity] through the skin, down to the facial muscles,” says licensed aesthetician and NuFACE co-founder Tera Peterson. “These waves have been shown to stimulate the production of key structural proteins, such as collagen and elastin, resulting in stronger, bouncier skin.” To get a little more science-y, microcurrent stimulates the production of the chemical adenosine triphosphate (ATP). By increasing the production of ATP, it can accelerate cellular metabolism, stimulate protein synthesis, and promote collagen and elastin, according to board-certified dermatologist and author of Seven Days to Sexy, Anna Guanche, MD.  In addition, because it energizes facial circulation, Peterson says you can expect plumper, more radiant skin with continued exposure. And, most notably, it supposedly works on all skin types, and whether you’re in your 20s or 90s.

“With consistent treatments, microcurrent can augment healing and stimulate healthy tissue,” says Dr. Guanche. However, she notes that how long those results last vary widely, and haven't been studied enough to quote a standard amount of time. “It is a very individual process, but for best results, an average of 10 to 15 professional sessions performed once or twice a week is recommended, followed by a maintenance session once every four to six weeks.”

If you’re like me, the idea of scheduling (and shelling out the money for) bi-weekly microcurrent facials is cringe-worthy, and that’s exactly why I gave NuFACE a go. The NuFACE Trinity Facial Toning Device ($325) is an FDA-cleared microcurrent facial device that’s designed to help improve the contours of your face and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in as little as 10 minutes a day, according to the company (not to mention, it's a Sephora best-seller). To be able to score professional-looking results from the comfort of my home seemed like the absolute dream, so I got my hands on a device and got to work.

microcurrent facial device
Photo: NuFACE

Day One

microcurrent facial benefits
Photo: Rebecca Norris

For reference, before using any microcurrent, my skin was firm and fairly smooth (I’d give it a 8.5/10). I also had a centered horizontal line on my forehead from raising my eyebrows when I’m excited/surprised/worried/annoyed, and a double-tiered wrinkle over my left eyebrow from smizing. In other words, I was ready to put at-home microcurrent to the test to see if it really could prevent these small lines from burgeoning into full-blown wrinkles.

I sat down at my vanity, grabbed the tube of Hydrating Leave-On Gel Primer that comes with the Trinity, and began rubbing it into my face in prep for the microcurrent. Before starting this experiment, I didn't realize it'd mean smearing full, sizeable globs of lube-like jelly onto my face to save my complexion from unexpected jolts. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t electrocute my face, but it definitely startled me with a stinging sensation that grew into a more intense burn the longer I held the device on my face. (Naturally, I took the device off my face at this point to figure out if I was doing it wrong, and thus, added more globs to my face.) Once I put more primer on, however, all was right with the world and I couldn’t feel a thing.

In terms of the device itself, it was super easy to use. You simply turn it on, glide it along the curves of your neck and face, hold it in place until it beeps, then move it to the next area of concern. Luckily, there’s a video on the NuFACE site that gives you the full run-down.

After my five minutes of toning were up, I scoped myself out in the mirror to check out the results. I immediately noticed lifted cheekbones and a slightly more sculpted jawline, however when I tried to capture my glow-up with a selfie, it felt less noticeable.

The only other notable mention of my first at-home microcurrent session was the taste. Yes, you read the right. While neither the device, nor the primer, ever went in my mouth, I noticed a tangy metal taste. This is totally normal (phew!), I later learned, if you have crowns or fillings, because the microcurrent interacts with the metal molecules. NuFACE assured me that it wouldn’t negatively affect my dental work, so I shrugged it off as a quirky side effect.

Day Two

After my first full-day of two microcurrent sessions, I woke up pumped to look in the mirror. Sadly, my instantly-lifted results from the previous day had disappeared. There was a tiny bit of lift there, though—I think, if I squinted. That being said, I remembered that consistency is key, and went on with my new routine for the day, and the 28 that followed.

Day 30

On the last day of my experiment I reached two conclusions:

1) The primer doesn’t agree with my skin. Prior to this trial, apart from a few low-key blackheads on my nose and one pesky comedone, I only really broke out with one monstrosity of a zit on my chin leading up to my period. During this month, however, I blossomed not one, not two, but seven blemishes—and not only on my chin, but the hollows of my cheeks, too. While I wasn’t too pleased with that, I’m well aware that it’s because I have the most sensitive skin like ever.

2) While the NuFACE is fabulous for day-of lifts (especially before events or a night out), it’s not an end-all, be-all for permanent lifting. Come the morning after every treatment, the results had pretty much vanished.

microcurrent facial results
Photo: Rebecca Norris

To be fair, Peterson says that seeing the results I was hoping for can often take more time. “Trinity delivers instant results that build with continual use,” she says, noting that using it for five minutes per day, five days a week for the first 60 days is your best bet for achieving maximum long-term results. Once you hit that 60-day mark, Peterson says you can drop it down to two to three days per week to maintain a noticeably lifted visage. Bad news though: If you slack off on your microcurrent skin-care routine, you’ll eventually lose even the greatest results.

If that feels like a lot of work for your face, picture it like this: Like exercise, microcurrent results are cumulative, and the more frequently you use an at-home device (or get spa treatments), the longer the results will last. So if you're going to do it for long-lasting results, make sure you can commit.

Love learning new ways to care for your skin? With summer coming IT'S WINTER!, it’s time to discover how to tend to it when you spend a lot of time outside. And, when you’re outside, don’t forget to put sunscreen on this oft-forgotten spot. NEED TO REDO BC OF SEASONALITY

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